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Journalism degree v grad schemes watch

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    Journalism seems like an extremely hard career to get into. I'm not 100% committed to the idea yet, I want to look around at the opinions before I completely dedicate myself to it.

    I'm at Leeds uni and want to ideally study English & Social Policy BA next year and if not then Politics & Social Policy BA. I looked at their journalism degree but the modules sound very practical and more based around production than writing.

    Do you think I would still have decent chances of getting a career in journalism if I just did an accredited scheme when I graduate with one of these degrees? Assuming (hopefully) that I got a good 1st and as much experience as I can possibly get?

    The thing is I want a solid career with a good wage but I don't want to overwork myself and sacrifice the rest of my life. I've no problem working hard but I don't want to go crazy from it. I used to be in full time dance training and you literally have no life because you spend all your time dancing or thinking about dancing and I hated it - I need some balance.

    Anyway thanks in advance for any advice =)
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    If I were you I'd not do the uni route, do some freelance articles for local papers and work up from there. Thats the traditional way which seems to still work well.
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    not go to uni at all? I want to get my degree regardless, esp as I'm not completely sure I want to do journalism.
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    I wouldn't bother with a degree specific to journalism tbh, that is the advice I got from an ex-Times journalist who I was lucky enough to meet!
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    (Original post by Pink Moon)
    not go to uni at all? I want to get my degree regardless, esp as I'm not completely sure I want to do journalism.
    Do a degree then (the one you want to do not the 'journo' one). But build the career on the side - not 'getting experience', build the career.
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    OK thanks, that sounds **** scary 'build the career' but I guess it's a good plan.
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    Do not bother with journalism schools, seriously. Unless you genuinely want to do it.

    Most places will school you on media law, NCTJ etc and so forth and will have their own style of writing which you'll have to pick up.

    General advice

    1) Go to the best university possible
    2) Study a traditional subject. Either an arts or a science non of this new-aged crap.
    3) Write for the local paper, student publications
    4) Blog. An MD told me that one of the editors at the BBC magazine will ask cadidates if they have online presence
    5) Learn how to use an RSS feed and google advanced search
    6) Learn about video: shoot a film, produce, edit, cut etc
    7) Try some tv presenting/audio presenting
    8) Make contacts and leverage off them
    9) Chase stories, learn to source them, read the press and follow trends (i.e. become well versed in how twitter operates, it makes sourcing stories easier)
    10) Follow the right people on twitter and focus on a 'niche' in journalism rather than saying you want to be a journalist. What kind? News? Tech? Science? Its better to pick a niche than just general news.

    PM me if you need more ideas/info.
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    (Original post by unknown demon)
    Do not bother with journalism schools, seriously. Unless you genuinely want to do it.

    Most places will school you on media law, NCTJ etc and so forth and will have their own style of writing which you'll have to pick up.

    General advice

    1) Go to the best university possible
    2) Study a traditional subject. Either an arts or a science non of this new-aged crap.
    3) Write for the local paper, student publications
    4) Blog. An MD told me that one of the editors at the BBC magazine will ask cadidates if they have online presence
    5) Learn how to use an RSS feed and google advanced search
    6) Learn about video: shoot a film, produce, edit, cut etc
    7) Try some tv presenting/audio presenting
    8) Make contacts and leverage off them
    9) Chase stories, learn to source them, read the press and follow trends (i.e. become well versed in how twitter operates, it makes sourcing stories easier)
    10) Follow the right people on twitter and focus on a 'niche' in journalism rather than saying you want to be a journalist. What kind? News? Tech? Science? Its better to pick a niche than just general news.

    PM me if you need more ideas/info.
    This
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    Sorry to latch onto this thread. I also want to go into Journalism but the "new-aged crap" comment has worried me. I'm doing Film and Literature at warwick, changed form flat English Lit, mainly because I wasn't enjoying the course. Have I ****** up?

    I've done some work experience with Reuters before, and people I spoke to had some really strange degrees. But I'm going to keep up with the whole work experience thing and try to build up my contacts. I've done some shooting and editing on the side while I was doing my A Levels, and am getting involved with the publicity side of various societies on campus, along with film reviewing when I get a chance.

    Is there any point considering an MA after my degree, or just devote my time trying to break into this career?
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    (Original post by Bubblebeard)
    or just devote my time trying to break into this career?
    I'd say this. Sounds like your doing ok though.
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    (Original post by Bubblebeard)
    Sorry to latch onto this thread. I also want to go into Journalism but the "new-aged crap" comment has worried me. I'm doing Film and Literature at warwick, changed form flat English Lit, mainly because I wasn't enjoying the course. Have I ****** up?

    I've done some work experience with Reuters before, and people I spoke to had some really strange degrees. But I'm going to keep up with the whole work experience thing and try to build up my contacts. I've done some shooting and editing on the side while I was doing my A Levels, and am getting involved with the publicity side of various societies on campus, along with film reviewing when I get a chance.

    Is there any point considering an MA after my degree, or just devote my time trying to break into this career?
    I wouldn't worry, you seem to have loads of experience and in regards to your degree - it isn't purely vocational and the literature side at least is fairly traditional. It is also at a very respectable uni so I wouldn't worry too much.
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    To be honest its NOT the work experience its the ability to churn. Some of the best journalists had very impressive levels of articles before they got their first jobs. For instance Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote over 100+ articles for The Times before landing his job at the NY Times as a graduate.

    Contacts MATTER ALOT. If you have none, MAKE SOME. This is industry is super unforgiving and relationships really are bread and butter to journalists since anyone can string half a decent article together.

    You're at Warwick so that off-sets your degree title, however doing an MA is only advisable if you WANT to do it. It won't differentiate you in the slightest even if its one of the top universities that doesnt mean much.
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    Apparently City University is well regarded for its Masters in Journo... so you can do your BA in English or whatnot, and still have that as an option
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    (Original post by Neville 'Facking' Bartos)
    Apparently City University is well regarded for its Masters in Journo... so you can do your BA in English or whatnot, and still have that as an option
    I remain very unconvinced by this course (and Cardiff) purely because they don't seem to send many graduates to national level publications or broadcasters.

    Well regarded still isn't unfortunately a guarantee.

    I'd pretty much advice creating things from scratch because anyone in media favours this and sees it in a positive light versus another qualification especially one that will teach you very limited skills. Journalism and media hopefuls need to be MUCH more multi-faceted.
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    (Original post by unknown demon)
    I remain very unconvinced by this course (and Cardiff) purely because they don't seem to send many graduates to national level publications or broadcasters.

    Well regarded still isn't unfortunately a guarantee.

    I'd pretty much advice creating things from scratch because anyone in media favours this and sees it in a positive light versus another qualification especially one that will teach you very limited skills. Journalism and media hopefuls need to be MUCH more multi-faceted.
    I would've thought their list of alumni was impressive, no?
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    (Original post by unknown demon)
    I remain very unconvinced by this course (and Cardiff) purely because they don't seem to send many graduates to national level publications or broadcasters.

    Well regarded still isn't unfortunately a guarantee.

    I'd pretty much advice creating things from scratch because anyone in media favours this and sees it in a positive light versus another qualification especially one that will teach you very limited skills. Journalism and media hopefuls need to be MUCH more multi-faceted.
    I know of a few people that dropped out of City. They were studying post-grad Journalism and thought the teaching was useless. One girl I know who dropped out of City done an NCTJ course (mentioned above) and loved it. She told me it is far cheaper, the experiance is more 'hands on' - by that I mean they are covering courts etc. Plus, she got bylines a few times a week as the training rooms are downstairs from a regional paper.
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    Again, I repeat and I can point you in the direction of who has even been personally advising me on my career thus far that these courses teach you in a very limited way.

    Media is multi-talented, staff are not silos. You must demonstrate ability to do several things and more in order to get a story. A masters in journalism with possibly the exception of Columbia in NYC will not help that much, even then I remain skeptical as to how far that goes in securing a job.

    The NCTJ while a good qualification to have will be paid for if you secure a full time role elsewhere so forking out your own money especially £4k is a very big risk one I would not encourage.
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    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    Unknown demon - cheers for the run down, seems like you know what you're talking about. Can I ask if you think it's better to do a degree in English & Social Policy or Politics & Social Policy or does it not make any difference? I'm not sure what area I'd want to write it, probably news/campaigns/social change. I think I'd probably get a better mark in Politics given that it's a lot easier, for me anyway.

    Also do you have any advice on networking? I know how to be social, ask for people's cards and suck up to them but how to you make an impression and make sure you can call on them 2/3/5 years down the line?

    Also (another question sorry) how to you stay sane in such a competitive and intense industry? I'm very ambitious but I don't want to be working 16 hours a day for the rest of my life.

    One more question lol. Pay; this whole thing is low paid until you get well recognised right? And that's really hard unless you work extremely intensely for years and years? Is it enough to live securely off?

    Does talent have anything to do with it? Like if your natural writing style was a bit different or something? Because by the sounds of it everything you need to be a good journalist can be taught and I'm guessing all prints would want you to stay in their style meaning you could teach yourself that as well...meaning that the competition would be ever greater? :/ And how is University of Leeds regarded respect wise?

    Ok I'm done with questions now.
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    (Original post by unknown demon)
    I remain very unconvinced by this course (and Cardiff) purely because they don't seem to send many graduates to national level publications or broadcasters.

    Well regarded still isn't unfortunately a guarantee.

    I'd pretty much advice creating things from scratch because anyone in media favours this and sees it in a positive light versus another qualification especially one that will teach you very limited skills. Journalism and media hopefuls need to be MUCH more multi-faceted.
    OP,

    The first post by this person is great and well worth a read. Subsequent posts are decent too, although there are a number of things I would dispute (see below). He's my advice anyway:

    Simply put, go for your degree, build up as much experience as possible - through placements at regional newspapers and student publications - and then do a formal training course. (It doesn't have to be NCTJ - for example, City isn't - but it must be a well respected course with a high employment rate and good quality teaching.)

    Contrary to what demon said, it isn't true that 'anybody can write a half decent article'. It is true that anybody can be trained to write in a journalistic style, but it isn't as easy as it seems. Natural ability when it comes to writing, initiative, people skills and a good instinct are really important and often seperate those who make it and those who don't.

    I also wouldn't be so suspicious about City and Cardiff, and the other big post-journalism course players. City is a good course, if you can afford it. Check out last year's alumni list on their website or, even better, the year before. (2008-09 academic year was a bit of an exeption; most national trainee schemes were cancelled during the recession, so almost nobody was employed last year.) City actually has the best rate in the UK of people who head straight to the nationals. However, it is by no means a 100 per cent run, especially in this day and age. Simply because there are no jobs. Even posts on backwater locals are heavily competitive.
    I think the benefits to be had from a course such as City or Cardiff (Cardiff, by the way, is more geared towards preparing you for regional posts) depends on how experienced you are in the field. If you've worked on regional rags before, have had a lot of experience and built up a contacts network, you're not going to get as much out of it. Otherwise, it's a great, albeit very intensive course. One thing you can't knock City for is its contact-making opportunities. The speakers and conference days it attracts (i.e. every year they run an amazing investigative journalism course headed by Nick Davies and David Leigh) are second to none.

    Anyway, do your Warwick degree coupled with experience and a post-grad qualification is your best bet. But by no means will it take you all the way. You'll have to reply on natural ability, contacts and luck for that. Good luck.

    p.s. you can certainly survive on a journalism wage but it is by no means flowers and chocolates. Starting wage on a local tends to be around £14 - 15,000. National trainee schemes aren't that much better, in some cases. (The Daily Mail only start you on £14k.)
    And how do you stay sane? You have to really, really want to do it. Simple as that.
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    (Original post by HereFishyFishy)
    OP,

    The first post by this person is great and well worth a read. Subsequent posts are decent too, although there are a number of things I would dispute (see below). He's my advice anyway:

    Simply put, go for your degree, build up as much experience as possible - through placements at regional newspapers and student publications - and then do a formal training course. (It doesn't have to be NCTJ - for example, City isn't - but it must be a well respected course with a high employment rate and good quality teaching.)

    Contrary to what demon said, it isn't true that 'anybody can write a half decent article'. It is true that anybody can be trained to write in a journalistic style, but it isn't as easy as it seems. Natural ability when it comes to writing, initiative, people skills and a good instinct are really important and often seperate those who make it and those who don't.

    I also wouldn't be so suspicious about City and Cardiff, and the other big post-journalism course players. City is a good course, if you can afford it. Check out last year's alumni list on their website or, even better, the year before. (2008-09 academic year was a bit of an exeption; most national trainee schemes were cancelled during the recession, so almost nobody was employed last year.) City actually has the best rate in the UK of people who head straight to the nationals. However, it is by no means a 100 per cent run, especially in this day and age. Simply because there are no jobs. Even posts on backwater locals are heavily competitive.
    I think the benefits to be had from a course such as City or Cardiff (Cardiff, by the way, is more geared towards preparing you for regional posts) depends on how experienced you are in the field. If you've worked on regional rags before, have had a lot of experience and built up a contacts network, you're not going to get as much out of it. Otherwise, it's a great, albeit very intensive course. One thing you can't knock City for is its contact-making opportunities. The speakers and conference days it attracts (i.e. every year they run an amazing investigative journalism course headed by Nick Davies and David Leigh) are second to none.

    Anyway, do your Warwick degree coupled with experience and a post-grad qualification is your best bet. But by no means will it take you all the way. You'll have to reply on natural ability, contacts and luck for that. Good luck.

    p.s. you can certainly survive on a journalism wage but it is by no means flowers and chocolates. Starting wage on a local tends to be around £14 - 15,000. National trainee schemes aren't that much better, in some cases. (The Daily Mail only start you on £14k.)
    And how do you stay sane? You have to really, really want to do it. Simple as that.

    I remain unconvinced about journalism school based on the number of people I've met in the industry without it.

    As for contact making opportunities there are far more events that are free and open to the public if you search for them. Surprisingly, some are on facebook if you delve deep enough. Would save you £8,000 as well.
 
 
 
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